7-22 November 2022


Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Main Stage

Running time



From €15


A striking portrait of an African American family

Opera has rarely been as topical as Blue. In Harlem, an African American couple anticipates the birth of its first-born son, with both hope and anxiety. The mother worries about her son’s future as she watches him become a young man and enter the world of activism. Meanwhile, the father tries to open his son’s eyes to the realities of 21st century America, whilst simultaneously struggling with his own identity as a police officer, a ‘Black man in blue’. When the parents’ deepest fears come true, they have to find a way to cope with reality.

Photo: Karli Cadel | The Glimmerglass Festival

A striking portrait of an African American family

Dutch National Opera presents the European premiere of Blue, an opera by American Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori and American librettist and theatre director Tazewell Thompson. Inspired by events in contemporary America as well as by Black literature, this opera captures the anguish of a community that finds strength and comfort in togetherness in dark times. It portrays a profoundly traumatic loss that elicits a great deal of pain and suffering, but also highlights the importance of human connection and the pivotal role music plays in this regard.


Relevant and on point

The premiere of Blue at the Glimmerglass festival in July 2019 couldn’t have been more timely. The death of George Floyd unleashed a wave of racial justice protests under the ‘Black Lives Matter’ slogan that had millions of people taking to the streets across the globe, including Amsterdam. This opera pushes boundaries in every sense of the word, and was awarded the title of ‘Best New Opera’ by the Music Critics Association of North America in 2020.

Performance information

Opera in two acts

Sung in English

Libretto  Tazewell Thompson

Musical direction  Kwamé Ryan
Stage direction  Tazewell Thompson
Set design  Donald Eastman
Costume design  Jessica Jahn
Lighting design  Robert Wierzel

The Father  Kenneth Kellog
The Mother  Aundi Marie Moore
The Reverend  Will Liverman
Girlfriends / Congregants Vuvu Mpofu, Rehanna Thelwell a.o.
Policemen / Congregants Martin Mkhize, Thando Mjandana a.o.

Residentie Orkest The Hague

Co-production of The Glimmerglass Festival, Washington National Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago

The Music Critics Association of North America’s 2020 pick for ‘Best New Opera’

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Tazewell Thompson

‘The libretto I wrote for Blue was my personal letter to the world’

A conversation with composer Jeanine Tesori and librettist and director Tazewell Thompson about the opera Blue.

Photo: Tazewell Thompson | © Fabian Obispo


Blue will premiere at Dutch National Opera in November to tie in with Black Achievement Month (BAM), held the month before. Each year in October, Dutch National Opera & Ballet celebrates BAM, in which the exceptional talents and contributions of people of African descent are showcased.

Residentie Orkest Den Haag

Residentie Orkest The Hague

Residentie Orkest The Hague is over 100 years old and is one of the most eminent symphony orchestras in the Netherlands. Led by principal conductor Anja Bihlmaier, this innovative orchestra performs in prominent concert halls in the Netherlands and abroad. Most recently, it has collaborated with Dutch National Opera on Dialogues des Carmélites, Madama Butterfly and Denis & Katya. In November 2022, it will provi­de the musical accompaniment to Blue.

Photo: Wouter Vellekoop

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Jeanine Tesori

‘The libretto I wrote for Blue was my personal letter to the world’

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Lorenzo Viotti

‘I give my all to projects I believe in’

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Stijn Schoonderwoerd

‘We want to continue enchanting our audiences’

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